Photography Inspiration and Staying Creative
Creative burnout and just an all out lack of photography inspiration are very common among portrait photographers. If you are experiencing a creative block here are 5 tips to getting your creativity back on track
First of all I do not feel that creativity is something that happens to us. We can not sit around and wait for creative inspiration to come to us. Creativity happens when we take action.
I believe we are all creative and need to flex our creative muscles… take action.
If we are lacking inspiration our creativity follows. We must get inspired and excited so that we can take action to create new work. Getting energized and excited about our passions is the key to creativity.
Here are my 5 Tips for portrait photography inspiration and getting your creativity back on track:
1 Take a break & recharge
Do something creative outside of portrait photography. – Sometimes you need to just give yourself a break. Burnout is real and can be super frustrating and stressfull.
I use several creative outlets outside of portrait photography that allow me to step back while still flexing my creative muscles.
I enjoy baking and cooking for my family and I also love shooting black and white film outside of portrait work. For myself I shoot with these old film cameras that are totally mechanical. They are just plain fun to use. When I find the time I develop and print them my darkroom. Too I typically have a bunch of film waiting around to be developed… It fascinates me what I can potentially create with what is on that film. It keeps me tied to photography but in a completely different way creatively.
2 Exercise – with a purpose.
Exercise will clear your head, give you energy, focus and improve your mood. All of this allows your natural creativity to flow more freely. Again, you have to take action to be creative so it helps tremendously to have energy
One way I have found to keep me motivated is to go for a run or walk is to bring my small film cameras with. I first started doing this during the shutdown and was intrigued with doing street photography of what was happening (or not happening) in our city during this time.
This ties the first two tips together and keeps me excited to get out and see what I can create with an old analog camera.
Find ways to combine your exercise and other creative outlets. My wife loves foraging and picking herbs. She makes amazing decoctions & teas and has learned a ton recently. This motivates her to go out in nature and she gets creative boosting exercise as well.
3 Get photography inspiration from others
This one I find is the easiest to execute but can be a bit tricky.
You want to draw inspiration from others work. Get ideas from their style locations lighting and editing. Find things that you would like to incorporate into your own style. That is all great!
But I find If I spend to much time looking at other artists work and not enough time just taking action to create my own. It can draw me down and I start to criticize my own work for not being up to the level I would like it to be at.
One thing I do is make every effort not to look at my phone email or any screen until I have my morning routine done so my mindset for the day is right.
A rule of thumb I try to live by is to create at least twice as much as I consume. Not always easy but worth the effort!
4 Go for a drive to scout locations to get photography inspiration.
Grab your favorite coffee put on your favorite playlist and go explore. Often times when I am stressed about a photoshoot and feel I am lacking creativity and ideas this is what I do. It is amazing how many times I have looked at the same locations and come up with new ideas by looking at them from another perspective and new set of eyes.
Pro tip – Apps like Sunseeker and Lumos can be great to see where the sun will be at a given time of day so you can plan your creative lighting!
5 Learn a new technique – and take action
Schedule some sessions for you to just learn. Maybe shoot in the middle of the day with hard light or start learning off camera flash. Make it a point to take a small steps in increasing the skill set you have as a portrait photographer. These shoots will be invaluable learning tools and a way to take more action in flexing those creative muscles.
Once you learn a new skill it opens up more options for your next portrait client, lessening the chance of doing the same old thing with every client!
Buy that new piece of gear and take action with it. Don’t just buy it learn how to use it! Maybe learn a new retouching skill.
- Give yourself a break
- Exercise – with a purpose.
- Get inspiration from others
- Go for a drive to scout locations and get ideas.
- Learn a new technique – and take action
The most important thing to take away from this is that creativity requires action.
In The War of Art Steven Pressfield says: “The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”